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Hyping Health Risks - Geoffrey Kabat

This book was alright.

In general the public, media, and people in the health business have an embarrassingly poor understanding of statistics and epidemiology.

Understanding the limits of statistics is essential to making sense of the over abundance of information out there today. Poorly collected or interpreted statistics can lead us to opposite conclusions (ie coffee, eggs, meat, etc. are both good and bad for you, depending on the study.)

This book gave a good explanation of epidemiology in general and the many problems with it. I say good instead of great because I think a lot of people still wouldn’t understand it.

The rest of the book goes into 3 case histories of things that worry the public, but are poorly substantiated by epidemiology - EMF, radon, and second hand smoke..I have long believed that EMF is a big problem, though I now understand better that most of the epidemiology does not support that. (There are other ways to tell if something is bad, such as direct studies, but the statistics on the subject are a mess, as there are many factors to health.) Even though I disagree with the conclusions of that section, we do have to hear the other side and not repeat incorrect data.

The radon section was great. I never bought into radon being a problem, though many people still repeat it as fact. The second hand smoke section was particularly enjoyable because that whole theory was deeply flawed from the start, and many researchers and governments have totally celebrated faulty data to prop up their faulty theory. It is very nice to see a sensible takedown, especially from a qualified skeptic like Kabat.

I did enjoy this book. It may serve as a good introduction for you.